Fruit produce co-op group formed from First Lady’s Self Reliance Workshop

Georgetown, Guyana – (March 26, 2018Seventeen women who graduated from the Self Reliance and Success In Business workshop, on Friday last, established their cooperative business group at the graduation ceremony of the workshop, which was held at the Women’s Leadership Institute, Cove and John. Regional Chairman, Ms. Genevieve Allen, last Monday, at the opening of the workshop, had issued a challenge to the participants to utilise the vast number of fruit trees located on the grounds of the institute. It was this challenge that motivated the young women to create the group, which will focus primarily on the production of fruit preserves and juices.

Front row, seated, from left to right: Assistant Director of Community Development, Mr.Eliot Ernest; Demerara-Mahaica (Region Four) Chairman, Ms. Genevieve Allen; First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, Facilitator – Interweave Solutions (Guyana) Incorporated, Mr. Sanjay Yohann Pooran, Ms. Yvonne Smith of the Office of the First Lady, Facilitator at the Interweave Solutions (Guyana) Incorporated, Ms, Crystal Baptiste surrounded by graduates of the workshop.

First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, who delivered the opening remarks at the ceremony, congratulated the graduates, saying that the skills they already had as homemakers have now been harnessed to allow them to be good business women. “Many times we have women who believe that they don’t know anything and the first thing I tell them is that if you’re a mother, you’re an economist because you’re budgeting for your house. You’re a manager because you’re making sure all the tasks are done, you’re a cook, you’re a laundrette and all sorts of things… You have talent,” she said. The First Lady also shared success stories of past participants of the workshop in an effort to motivate the new batch to be proactive with their knowledge and certificate gained.

Facilitator of Interweave Solutions (Guyana) Incorporated, Mr. Sanjay Yohann Pooran, in an invited comment, explained that after the Regional Chairman issued the challenge he and the participants discussed how they would bring the concept to reality. “Lots of them [the participants] expressed interest in seeing that project move from just a small business to something of a co-op, as you know, a small business is a little bit different from a co-op experience because they have to collaborate and partner in order to make it successful. From about Thursday we started to get more interest, by the end of Thursday, we had 17 women who expressed their interest in participating and were willing to, not only receive training on how to preserve fruits, process fruits or even make the juices, but also to market the product, present it to a national market and hopefully regional market… We’re going to collaborate with [Ministry of] Social Protection, we’re going to collaborate with Interweave and the institute, bring us all together around the table. We hope to have it registered as a co-op, receive the funding and move forward from there,” he said.

First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, delivering her opening remarks, today, at the closing ceremony of the Self Reliance and Success In Business workshop.

Meanwhile, Regional Chairman, Ms. Genevieve Allen, during her featured address, told the participants that they must be agents of change if they wished to see progress within their communities. “If you want your business to be successful within these communities you cannot take a seat at the back and expect things to change, you have to make 1000 steps forwards to the front and become recognised by the people around you that you are a change agent so that your business can become a successful one,” she opined.

Ms. Allen also indicated her interest in ensuring the graduates become more proactive within their communities through participation in local governance. “I would like to ask for the list of the participants because my thoughts are, as I am chair for the Women and Gender affairs committee, I am going to organise a forum for all the participants here to give them all the necessary skills and information that is needed for them to be in local government governance at their level,” she said.

Ms. Fazillia Ramphal, a graduate from the workshop, described the experience as wonderful and helpful for her since she is an aspiring young entrepreneur. “It was impactful. [I learned] to keep records, it helped us to balance business books to keep to let us know whether we’re making a profit or loss and other areas to make the business run smoothly,” she said.

During the course of the workshop, participants fell into four groups, the groups from this batch of graduates intend to focus on waste management, unemployment, infrastructural development and juvenile delinquency. The workshop, which had originally commenced with 38 women hailing from Mahaica, Clonbrook, Victoria, Belfield, Golden Grove, Haslington and Cove and John, East Coast Demerara, saw a total of 41 graduates today.

The Self Reliance and Success In Business initiative is organised by the Office of the First Lady in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Protection and Interweave Solutions (Guyana) Incorporated. This is the third Self Reliance Workshop for the year.

The group of 17 young women from the Self Reliance and Success in Business workshop who formed the Co-Op business group.



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